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Covid-19 pandemic: A counsellor's journey (Part 1)

Elderly lady in wheelchair (Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash)
Elderly lady in wheelchair (Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash)

After more than 20 years in the commercial world, I decided to follow the passion in my heart to help others in need and made a defining career switch to the counselling sector, specifically to O’Joy. I have been devoting my time in O’Joy to caring for the elderly, making home visitations to help them with their physical, psychological and social needs.

The enforcing of the circuit breaker in early April introduced restrictions and limitations that changed how we, as counsellors, could provide care. Providing in-person support became severely limited and advised against. Immediately, I could see the effect that had on my clients. Some of them became anxious, in particular Mdm Leow (not real name) who had pressing needs and relies on her case workers to accompany her for medical appointments at the hospital.

Mdm Leow is in her 60s, lives alone and is dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. On top of being laden with multiple medical conditions, Mdm Leow had also recently lost her sight. I was concerned for her safety if she were to go to the hospital on her own as she is not only frail, but additionally, her neuropathic condition prevents her from maintaining an upright position for more than 20 minutes which makes it necessary for her to lie down frequently. Navigating the hospital grounds by herself will be arduous, posing a risk of falls or getting infected with Covid-19 due to increased time and exposure in a hospital environment.

I grappled with an internal struggle over whether I was prepared to take on the risks of getting an infection myself if I decide to accompany her for her appointment. However, despite the conflict, my concern for Mdm Leow and the thought of the risks that she would be subjected to should she head to the hospital alone, trumped the internal struggle.

On the day of the appointment, everything went quite smoothly, from the consultation to the treatment to collecting her medications. Even when we had to wait in the cold and heavy rain for a full 25 minutes for a taxi home, Mdm Leow reached home safely.

Not once did I regret my decision to accompany Mdm Leow. I was extremely gratified when Mdm Leow reached out to me and expressed her gratitude:

“I had put on a brave front when I told you that I can manage on my own. I understand why the government came up with the circuit breaker measures, and I also did not want to put you at risk. However, as the day of the appointment approached, I became more and more anxious…. Past memories of being “dropped off from one place to another” when I went on my own, the emotional pain that I had to bear while feeling helpless and frustrated…flashed back to me…I am so grateful you came to help me after all, even during this time of restriction.”

Knowing that I have made a difference in someone’s life and receiving similar accounts of heartfelt gratitude and appreciative smiles are more than enough to spur me on to help more people in need.

*Names and photos used in this article have been changed to protect the client's privacy.

Written by: Magdalene Chua, counsellor at O'Joy


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